books: Hollywood Bohemians

Hollywood Bohemians: Transgressive Sexuality and the Selling of the Movieland Dream

Picture Garbo and Dietrich in men’s tailored suits, female impersonators drawing the stars to their nightclubs, and designers bringing a gay aesthetic to dresses–decades before Project Runway.

Wild, and outlandish, these bohemians’ “illegal” sexual activities and interests added titillation to the Hollywood Dream. The bohemians made celebrity and sex life synonymous by flaunting their controversial behavior and pushing the media envelope. The Hollywood bohemians of the ’20s & ’30s were the forerunners of today’s highly sexualized celebrity culture.

Sounds like a good time to me, no? History was my absolute worst subject in school. If it couldn’t be conveyed by Warner Bros. cartoons, The Twilight Zone, and Star Trek or Bewitched time-travel episodes, I really wasn’t interested. Whenever I landed on Yellow while playing Trivial Pursuit, if I wasn’t on a team, I was screwed. It goes without saying that none of that media I watched as a kid ever covered this kind of perspective on Hollywood in the ’20s & ’30s.

I’d heard of the author more from his writing about D.C.’s new stadium, I hadn’t a clue that Brett wrote about this aspect of Hollywood until checking out his blog a while ago. I haven’t actually read a copy of Hollywood Bohemians [McFarland | Amazon] yet–*cough-autographed copy-cough* Who said that?! 😈 –but reviews are very favorable. From reading entries on Brett’s blog, he clearly knows his stuff and continues to make interesting observations about Hollywood culture from then and now. Since most of today’s modern celebrity culture turns me off, I’m betting this journey into history would make for a fascinating read.

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5 Responses

  1. kyle says:

    “Bewitched” may not have told you much directly about the queer Hollywood culture, but few shows did a better job of demonstrating queer Hollywood culture. The closet wasn’t exactly thrown open, but its door was certainly ajar.

    latest entry: nutrishuss

  2. brian says:

    @kyle: Oh believe me, the shows that I watched, Bewitched, Match Game, Hollywood Squares, Too Close for Comfort, Are You Being Served? They taught me plenty, I just may not have realized it at the time.

    My Uncle Arthur impression is still pretty good. 😉

  3. Lolypup says:

    and Three’s Company, didnt that teach us that GAY MEN COOK!

  4. brian says:

    @Lolypup: Oh my, what I learned from Three’s Company… Blondes never wear bras, no one ever wants the short dumpy friend, and pretending to be gay is no way to get chicks.*

    * at least it didn’t used to be.

  5. Lolypup says:

    That reminds me, one of my closest and dearest friends, I actually met him out at a gay bar thinking he was gay. Later found out he was there for the chicks, he used to claim he could bag more woman from a gay bar and sure enough he did. I swear every time I opened my pantry he was there banging another girl or id wake up in the middle of the night and he would be laying next to me banging away or I would come home and there he was and some chick on my couch… Oh’ those were the days!

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